Make Textbooks Affordable

Everyone knows that textbooks prices are outrageous. Students spend an average of $1,200 a year on textbooks and course materials, and prices have been rising more than for times the rate of inflation for the past two decades!

It’s no accident that textbooks are so expensive. Publishing companies are raking in huge profits while engaging in bad practices that drive up costs: issuing new editions that make used books hard to find, bundling textbooks with unnecessary CDs and pass-codes, and more. They get away with it because students don’t have a choice -- we’ve got to buy the book they’re selling, even if the price is outrageous.

The good news is that we're making progress. Students can save hundreds through discounted options like renting, used books and bookswaps on campus.  

The real momentum comes from lasting solutions like open-source textbooks, which could literally revolutionize the textbook market by offering free online access and reducing costs up to 80%. Open source textbooks are faculty-written and peer reviewed just like published textbooks, but they're available free online, free to download, and affordable in print.

So we're fighting to rein in costs by promoting cost-saving solutions on campus, while also tackling publishers' stranglehold on the market to change prices for good.  We're educating students, faculty and bookstores, and raising awareness through research and the media. We're also calling on publishers, colleges and foundations to give faculty the training and resources they need to adopt open-source textbooks and save students millions each year.

QUESTIONS? Contact Our National Campaign Staff here.

Issue updates

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs | Higher Ed, Textbooks

Fixing the Broken Textbook Market

This study demonstrates that despite recent steps forward in the marketplace, high textbook costs will continue to be a problem for students unless the cost of high-priced, new editions of college textbooks comes down.

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News Release | Student PIRGs | Textbooks

College Textbooks: Latest Trends and How to Save Money This Fall

As students across the country prepare to return to campus this fall, textbooks remain one of the priciest items on their shopping lists. However, several new developments suggest the textbooks market may be reaching a turning point. 

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Media Hit | Higher Ed, Textbooks

The great textbook robbery

A watchdog group called CALPIRG has issued a report called Ripoff 101, documenting that the giant publishers are raising prices of college texts at a rate three times higher than the prices of general books.

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Blog Post | Textbooks

Big Day for Open Education!

Today was a big day in the movement for free and open textbooks! A conference call featuring U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter, CALPIRG textbook affordability activist Arthur Karadzhyan, and other leaders kicked off two exciting new initiatives for open education: 

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Resource | Textbooks

Federal Textbook Price Disclosure Law

Summary

The HEOA, short for the Higher Education Opportunity Act, is a higher education reform bill passed by Congress in 2008.  Among the many provisions in HEOA was a set of important regulations to help make textbooks affordable, which went into effect July 1, 2010

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